Expiration dates are something a lot of people have questions about or are unclear about. For example, you may be wondering does Xanax expire, or is it safe to take expired Xanax? You may also have questions about how to properly store Xanax, or what would happen if they were to take Xanax past its expiration date.

A lot of the reasons people have these questions are because they might not have insurance, so they don’t want to see a doctor for a prescription refill, or maybe they’re worried about the cost of the refill itself. You might also just have expired Xanax on-hand, and you’re wondering if there are any risks of taking it.

What Does Drug Expiration Mean?

The expiration date of a drug is something that’s determined by the drug manufacturer or perhaps the pharmacist, and it’s a date that refers to a time when the full potency and safety of a drug is guaranteed. This doesn’t mean that Xanax as an example wouldn’t still be just as potent after its expiration date, or even just as safe, but it does mean that it’s not guaranteed.

Some drugs, such as certain antibiotics, can actually be dangerous if they’re taken after their expiration date, but Xanax isn’t one of those. However, if you take Xanax after its expiration date, you may find that it doesn’t work as effectively as it once did.

Manufacturers of drugs like Xanax are required to indicate on the label when a drug expires. It’s a legal requirement and based on the law and also concerns about liability, manufacturers won’t provide any level of guarantee about how stable a drug is beyond its expiration date.

Most drugs in the U.S. have an expiration date of anywhere from 12 to 60 months after they’re manufactured.

What is the Shelf Life of Xanax?

Another phrase relevant to the discussion of whether or not Xanax expires is the shelf life. A drug such as Xanax that has exceeded its shelf life may still be safe, but the manufacturer doesn’t guarantee its quality.

Shelf life can actually be influenced by a lot of individual factors including storage conditions. Some of the elements of how a drug is stored that influence its shelf life include temperature, exposure to light and moisture.

If Xanax is stored with other drugs for example or isn’t stored in its original container, its shelf life may be shorter than it would be otherwise.

Many studies have shown that the real shelf life of drugs like Xanax can be much longer than what expiration dates indicate.

What If You Take Expired Xanax?

The short answer to whether or not Xanax expires is yes, all drugs in the U.S. have an expiration date. As to whether or not it’s safe, it may be, but this is something you should consult a doctor or pharmacist about to be sure.

Currently, there are no reports of expired medicines leading to toxic outcomes for patients, and tablets, and capsules which are what Xanax is prescribed as, tend to have the most stability past their expiration date.

If you store Xanax properly, you’re also extending its potency. For example, many people will store medications in their bathrooms, but this is not a good place because of the humidity. Exposure to moisture can shorten the shelf life of Xanax and other drugs. You should try to store medications in cool, dry places away from direct light.

There is a big risk that can come from keeping expired Xanax around, however. If you have Xanax that has expired and it’s left in your home, there’s the potential for children or pets to get it accidentally, or for other people to purposely take it to abuse it. Xanax is a commonly abused drug, and it often starts when people obtain Xanax that has expired. If you have teenagers or other people in your home who might be susceptible to abusing Xanax, it’s often best to properly dispose of these unused medicines.

Also, there is, of course, the possibility that if you take expired Xanax, it won’t be effective. If you were having an anxiety or panic attack and your Xanax had lost some of its potency, it could be problematic.

Ultimately, the best thing to do when wondering does Xanax expire is to know that it does, but whether or not you should take it or dispose of it is best left to a physician or pharmacist.